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ACT alert Pacific - Fiji & Tonga: New cyclone wreaks havoc in the Pacific

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Geneva, 17 January, 2003 - Less than a month after Cyclone Zoe slammed into the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, a new cyclone has wreaked havoc on the island state of Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga.
Feiloakitau Kaho Tevi of the World Council of Churches' Pacific Desk says that the Methodist Church and the Anglican Church's Diocese of Polynesia along with their member-churches on the islands that have been affected by Cyclone Ami. Both churches are members of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International.

The full scale of the destruction caused by Cyclone Ami is slowly becoming evident, as rescuers reach remote areas that have been without power and telephones for the past days.

Fiji: At least six people are confirmed to have died during the cyclone and a number of people are still missing.

Cyclone Ami ripped through Fiji Island on Monday night (13 January 2003), affecting Vanua Levu, the second largest island in Fiji, leaving its main city Labasa awash in floodwaters up to 1.2 meters deep. All communications to and from the area were cut off.

The smaller islands of Lau and Lomaiviti were also affected. The Fiji National Disaster Management Committee (DISMAC) reports that more than 50 percent of homes in the island of Ono-I-Lou alone were destroyed by the cyclone. Coconut plantations and crops were also decimated and water sources on the island contaminated by salt water.

The government of Fiji has not yet requested international assistance as it is still waiting for an official assessment report.

Tonga: Cyclone Ami roared over the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga but caused less damage than to the islands of Fiji. Telephone lines were cut, trees stripped and extensive damage was caused to banana and coconut plantations. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, Thor-Arne Prois (phone +41 22 791 6032 or mobile phone + 41 79 203 6055) or
ACT Appeals Officer, Mieke Weeda (phone +41 22 791 6035 or mobile phone +41 79 285 2916)

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.